Crowning success

Sarah DavidsonCongratulations to Sarah Davidson, a first year Chemistry with Study in Industry student from the Chemistry Department, who has been successful in securing a Crown Manufacturing Scholarship. Sarah writes about her experience in applying for this award.

“I first heard about the scholarship after attending a careers/placements fair in March 2015, where I got a flyer with brief details about it. I did some research about the company and found their work really interesting. The company itself appealed to me as they are a large international organisation which supply packaging for a variety of products such as foods and cosmetics. In my opinion a placement with the company would allow me to enhance my practical skills and work in a bigger team consisting of different kinds of scientists and engineers. This could greatly enhance my employability and so prompted me to apply.

Moreover, the financial benefits of the scholarship were the best I had come across. They will provide sponsorship for years two and four of my undergraduate degree, in addition to paying for accommodation, travel and food - and paying me a wage - whilst on placement with them in my third year as part of the industry course.

To apply for the scholarship I first had to send a CV and cover letter to the member of human resources who was dealing with the applications, this I did in April. I heard back a couple of weeks later that I had been invited for an interview at the beginning of May, which was held at the Careers Service on campus.

The interview was conducted by the member of Human Resources who I had sent my CV to and one of the lead chemists who works for the company. I spent half an hour with each of them. In the first part, with the member of Human Resources, I was asked general questions about previous work experience I had had, my strengths and my weaknesses. Initially I was worried that I hadn't had enough science-based work experience but I tried to make the experience I had relevant to what Crown do.

In the half an hour I was interviewed by the chemist, the questions I were asked were more to assess my technical knowledge and problem solving skills. I was presented with one of their products - a can of coke - and we discussed various elements that maybe involved in its production, and what the chemists would have to consider and how they contribute to the process. This part of the interview I enjoyed as I have a genuine interest in what the scientists at the company do. It also gave me a chance to ask questions about what that specific member of the Crown team did, and the type of chemistry that is involved in their field. Through doing this, I think I was able to convey my enthusiasm about chemistry and the company without necessarily trying - which looking back I reckon stood in my favour. After the interview I thought I had done the best I could, considering it was the first application like that I had done. Regardless of the outcome I knew I'd gained knowledge of how to prepare for interviews, how to conduct
myself during them and it also prompted me to get my CV in order. I found out I had got the scholarship a week after the interview. I was really excited when I found out, because a career in the chemical industry is something I really want and I see this as the first  step towards achieving that goal. I am due to visit the company for a month’s placement in August, which I can't wait for. Hopefully  during this time I will get a greater insight into the kind of work I will undertake during my year in industry and what a career as an  industrial chemist is like. “